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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reap what you sow...

I happen to be reading a terrific overview of the administrative reform movement of the past 25 years written by Larry Terry (see here and chapter 7 in here), former editor of Public Administration Review who tragically died a few weeks ago. In his critique of those reforms that generally go under the title "New Public Management" (he terms them neo-managerialism), Terry highlights two dimensions in the movement: liberation management (of the Tom Peters variety; "let the managers manage!") and market-driven management. His fundamental argument is that neo-managerialism has significant unintended and negative consequences, with the most important being its weakening ("thinning") of the capacity of government (in the form of the "hollow state") to do its job.

The general relevance of this argument will be obvious to any observer of government under the NPM regime, but it is glaringly relevant in the case of the Big Dig, as attested to by today's installment of the Boston Globe coverage which focuses on the management approach and style of James J. Kerasiotes, the person who was in charge of the project during most of its critical phases (also see here for earlier piece by the Globe). In many respects his tenure as overall manager of the Big Dig is a model of Terry's neo-managerialism at work.

You reap what you sow....

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Comments on "Reap what you sow..."


Blogger Ciarán said ... (9:35 AM) : 

Mel, the link for Larry Terry's first article on the Thinning of Government is not good (you've sent us through the OU proxy). The abstract for the article is here.


Blogger Mel said ... (3:55 PM) : 

Thanks C....


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